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Clifford D. May

Clifford D. May

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a columnist for The Washington Times. He can be reached at

Columns by Clifford D. May

Ronald Reagan’s freedom agenda

Ronald Reagan was tough on totalitarians. On March 8, 1983, and to the chagrin of many of his advisers, he disparaged the Soviet Union as an "evil empire." On June 12, 1987, standing by the barrier designed to prevent East Germans from escaping into West Berlin, and again ignoring top deputies, he called on Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!" Published June 12, 2018

Illustration on pressuring North Korea and Iran by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Pushing North Korea and Iran to the brink

It's a simple question to ask: Do we have a vital national interest in preventing our self-declared enemies from acquiring deliverable nuclear weapons? Published June 5, 2018

Illustration on reassessing East/West relations by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Bernard Lewis has much to teach us

Bernard Lewis, the incomparable scholar of the Middle East and Islam, died last week. I cannot claim to have known Professor Lewis well, but one didn't need to spend much time in his presence to recognize how extraordinary he was. So rather than mourn, I intend to continue learning from him — from his life, literature and legacy. I also plan to raise a glass to him on May 31, his 102nd birthday. Published May 29, 2018

Illustration on Hamas' goals towards Israel nby Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

For Hamas and its allies, the worse the better

There was a time when even inveterate haters of Israel refrained from making common cause with terrorists, jihadists and exterminationists. That time has passed. Published May 22, 2018

Illustration on nuclear negotiations by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Trump’s art of the nuclear deals

Donald Trump inherited two deadly serious national security crises, one in the Middle East, one in the Far East. Look closely and you'll see that these crises are inseverable. Published May 15, 2018

Illustration on the preservation of good relations with Kazakhstan by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

A little pivot to Central Asia

Kazakhstan is one of the 10 largest countries in the world, yet most Americans couldn't find it on a map. It spans Central Asia, home to the world's most sophisticated civilizations in the Middle Ages, yet most Americans know nothing of the region's ancient cities, scholars and poets. Today, Kazakhstan is a secular and anti-Islamist Muslim-majority nation, yet most Americans have no idea we have friends here. Published May 1, 2018

Illustration on options in Syria by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Middle East missions to accomplish

Can we at least agree that President Trump's decision to strike three chemical weapons facilities owned and operated by Bashar Assad — vassal of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia — was consistent with American values? Published April 17, 2018

Illustration on Syria's role in middle-east peace by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

What’s at stake in Syria

Syria is a far-away land about which we know little. But we do know this: Over the past seven years, more than a half million people have been slaughtered there, with an estimated 150 murdered by chemical weapons just last weekend in a town outside Damascus. Published April 10, 2018

Illustration on American anti-globalism by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Give anti-globalism a chance

"Globalism" is one of those Humpty Dumpty words that seems to mean whatever those using it "choose it to mean — neither more nor less." Published April 3, 2018

Fair and Free Elections Illustration by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

The problem with promoting democracy

In a better world, I'd be enthusiastically in favor of democracy promotion and even nation-building — more correctly called state-building. But we don't live in a better world. Published March 27, 2018

Illustration on the political situation of Egypt by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

The Egyptian riddle

With presidential elections coming up on March 26, Egypt's capital is festooned with campaign billboards and posters. That's an encouraging sight in the Middle East, and yet I sense that something is amiss. It takes me a while to realize what: The posters and billboards all feature one candidate, incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Other contenders are nowhere to be seen. Published March 20, 2018

Illustration on unity of the Coptic and Islamic faiths by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

A pope and an imam

Pope Tawadros II had planned to spend last week on retreat in a monastery near Alexandria. But then Mohammed bin Salman, on a three-day visit to Egypt, asked to see him. Published March 13, 2018

Illustration contrasting the fictional nation of Wakanda, home of the Black Panther, with the tragic realities of present day Africa by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Black lives in Africa

No nation in Africa is receiving more attention right now than Wakanda. And why not since, as Anthony Lane writes in The New Yorker, Wakanda is "a model of serenity," that also is "wisely ruled," in addition to being "an unplundered homeland, blooming from liberty rather than from bondage." Published February 27, 2018

Illustration on the complicated peace process in Gaza by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Hopeless in Gaza

Gaza has been an unhappy place for a long time but the situation is now reportedly growing desperate. Jobs are scarce, electricity is intermittent, drinking water is unsafe, and raw sewage released into the Mediterranean is washing up on Gaza's white sandy beaches. Published February 20, 2018

Illustration on nuclear threats to the United States by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

China and Russia pose the central challenge, but North Korea’s threat is imminent

High among President Trump's first-year achievements: Appointing James Mattis secretary of Defense. His experience, knowledge, dedication and just plain toughness qualify him, perhaps uniquely, for what he clearly sees as the most important mission of his life — ensuring that America's military forces are equal to the threats they will face over the years ahead. Published January 30, 2018